Rotary is doing the work of god and Rotarians have the power to touch and change lives which is a big gift. “So let us come together to turn the wheel and serve to change lives,” said RI President Shekhar Mehta at an event in Amravati to felicitate TRF donors and clubs which have surpassed membership targets in RID 3030.
Amazed by the healthcare projects, most of them permanent ones, and community initiatives being done by all the four clubs in Amravati, he urged the club presidents and secretaries to make “the best use of the rest of the Rotary year as this is once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.” DG Ramesh Meher was doing a great job and he will be followed by DGE Anand Jhunjhunwala and DGN Asha Venugopal, so there is plenty of ‘happiness’ and ‘hope’ to follow.
“A small city with just 5–7 lakh population, Amravati has some of the most outstanding projects under the leadership of PDG Kishor Kedia and Meher,” he said. Recalling his early days in Rotary and the way it transformed him, Mehta called for introspection over two contrasting worlds, one with haves and the other with have-nots. “We have to understand the pain of the deprived and try to mitigate it.” The beauty of Rotary is that it gives one a platform to make the world a better place to live in by making the “lame walk, blind see and healing the sick.”
Club presidents have their task cut out for the rest of the year. “I have held many top positions in Rotary, but I enjoyed most the one as president of my club as you have so much work to do,” he said. His twin mantras — Grow more, do more; and Each one, bring one — will enable Rotary to increase its membership to 1.3 million, with our zones contributing substantially.
In his address, DG Meher assured Mehta that his district will cross the target of inducting 1,000 new members by June 30, 2022. “We want all the 96 clubs (in RID 3030) to get the gold pin by adding over 30 new members each, with nine being women.” The district will train 100,000 girls in self-defence techniques under the Veerangana project, he said.
Five gold pins were put on PDG Rajiv Sharma and Rashmi, the newly-inducted first AKS couple from RID 3030; DGN Asha Venugopal for her Endowment Fund contribution ($25,000); PDG Kishabhau Godbole (Endowment); AG Rajendra Pawar and Hemalatha (Major Donors); and past president Udayraj Patwardhan and Rekha (Term Gift: $30,000).
Paul Harris Society chair Anirudh Paldiwal was felicitated for increasing the PHS membership from 19 to 39; Rtn Ravi Mahadeokar from RC Nasik was honoured for initiating two CSR projects — one with Singer company for training rural women in tailoring; and the other with Nestle for a pan-India roll-out of a human milk bank. RC Gandhicity Wardha, a 100 per cent PHF club, and RC Nasik City, an EREY club, were honoured. DRFC and PDG Mahesh Mokalkar said the district will meet its target of $500,000 in TRF giving, half of which will be for the Annual Fund.
Three clubs — RCs Nasik, Nagpur Ishanya and Nagpur South — received gold pins for adding over 30 new members; four new clubs were formed and six more are in the pipeline. The district has added 500 new members. DMC Rajesh Vyawahare said, “we are focusing on 100 per cent retention too; our membership has grown from 4,720 to 5,215.” To mark the RI president’s birthday, 175 blood donation camps were held for 15 days across the district, with clubs collecting well over 3,030 units of blood, said DG Meher.
I have held many top positions in Rotary, but I enjoyed most the one as president of my club as you have so much work to do.
– Shekhar Mehta, RI President
A blood donation van (GG: ₹32 lakh), a project of RC Amravati Midtown, was inaugurated by Mehta. This will collect blood from the doorsteps of donors in and around the city. Mehta also visited the Dr Panjabrao Deshmukh Memorial Medical College Hospital, in partnership with which the clubs in Amravati do healthcare projects.
Set up in March 2016, the human milk bank (GG: ₹12 lakh) and incubator ward (GG: ₹10 lakh) take care of the newborns. “While the milk bank has reached out to 7,500 infants, the NICU ward has served over 5,000 babies,” said Dr Rajesh Boob, project in-charge from RC Amravati Midtown. The extra milk donated by lactating mothers will be preserved for six months in cold storage to help mothers who can’t nurse their babies.
Though set up in November, the 20-bed palliative care centre (₹30 lakh: member donations) will start functioning from December-end, he said. “It will house those with terminal illness, cancer patients, etc,” said past president Raju Mundhada from Midtown club. Around 2,000 women are being screened every month for cervical and breast cancer by the mammography bus (₹1 crore: club funding), with a detection rate of one per cent, since Jan 2018. A high-tech eye check-up (₹15 lakh) and dental clinic (₹30 lakh) vans are being run by RC Amravati Ambanagari which immensely benefit villagers.
For each dialysis being done at the Rotary Dialysis Centre — ₹30 lakh for three machines through club funding since March 2020 — at the Kidney Care Centre, “our club pays ₹700, and the patient, only ₹400,” said Mundhada. A well-stocked orthopaedic library (₹10 lakh) at the Rotary Hall is lending medical beds, oxy concentrators, wheelchairs, etc to needy patients for well over 15 years,” he said.
In partnership with the Hindu Smashan Sansthan, a gas crematorium was set up in 2014 for ₹1.5 crore. “During peak Covid, bodies lined up on either side for cremation and even though we ran this unit 24×7, the waiting period was 7–8 hours. It was a nightmare,” recalled AG Dr P R Somvanshi. An RO unit (₹8 lakh) at the Baderna railway station offers drinking water to passengers.
To provide healthcare at remote villages, “we will be conducting four mega camps in the coming months for 1,000 people living in tribal hamlets and rural pockets. General health and hygiene will be the priority at these camps,” said Anand Dashpute, president, RC Amravati Midtown. He is collaborating with the ISKCON, district collector’s office, and the RSS, to deliver nutritious food and ration kits to 2,000 pregnant women across 300 villages in the Melghat area of Dharani taluk, Amravati district.
Around 100 students in the taluk will be given sweaters and stationery items including notebooks by Midtown club, the biggest in Amravati with 118 members. “There are 16 clubs in Nagpur with 1,700 Rotarians; the 300 Amravati Rotarians with limited resources are doing an excellent job reaching out to the communities,” said Kishore Rathi, chair, Nagpur Enclave, RID 3030.
Pictures by V Muthukumaran
A mental wellness initiative from RID 3030
Youth power is at the forefront in this Vidarbha region of Maharashtra as Rotary’s District Action Group on Mental Health Initiatives (DAGMHI) with 500 members and 11 board of directors is holding webinars and online counselling to students, Rotaractors, adults and non-Rotarians suffering from depression and anxiety disorders. “We work on a pan-India basis with lot of online sessions and workshops. Though this group was started in 2015, we became active only from July 2021 with the efforts of Dr Aabha Pimprikar from RC Nasik Grapecity, our president and Dr Rita Aggarwal, advisor, from RC Nagpur,” says Pankaj Agrawal, executive director, DAGMHI.
One of their priorities is taking care of child health through proper counselling and timely intervention. “We have done over 50 webinars, online programmes that offer consultations for general well-being of stressed out families and students preparing for exams,” he explains. DAGMHI invites a psychologist or an expert counsellor to guide its online participants. So far, this RAG has touched 2,000 beneficiaries across India. “In the coming years, we will expand our visibility across India through both online and offline programmes,” says Agrawal, a Rotarian for 15 years and IPP of RC Achalpur.